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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

MOBLEY, Mordecai

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MOBLEY, Mordecai. (Wellsburg, Brook County, VA, Aug.29, 1800-Washington, D.C. June 26, 1887). Mobley was one of the early settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois and served on its board of trustees in 1836. (1) He was deeply affected by the preaching of Dr. Robert Foster and became an active Christian. (2) Mobley served the Clerk of the Tazwell County Commissioners Court; clerk of the district court, and recorder and judge of probate and postmaster of Springfield, Illinois. He was elected as a representative in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1826-1827.

A promissory note.
Mobley came to Dubuque prior to 1848 when he served as secretary of the DUBUQUE MUTUAL FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY. In 1850 he helped establish a church of the Disciples of Christ. (3) After several years of working as a cashier at the MINERS' BANK, Mobley purchased controlling interest and renamed it M. Mobley's Bank. Ironically he had once been hired by Dr. Richard Barrett and Thomas Mather, principal owners of the Miners' Bank to examine its financial condition. (4) In 1853 he was chairman of the citizens' fire committee. He was the treasurer of the Dubuque Times which was first published on June 15, 1857.

In 1855 Mobley proposed that the 7th Street extension should be filled in and the sloughs should be bridged with double track bridges within fifteen months. In addition a levee 320 feet long and sixty-four feet wide should be constructed. This would be done by the DUBUQUE HARBOR IMPROVEMENT COMPANY, an organization of which he was a member. Other prominent business people included James Ogilby, Thomas S. WILSON, James LANGWORTHY, Lucius Hart LANGWORTHY, and Lincoln CLARK. In payment the company would receive a strip of land, one block wide out to the river on one side of the extended 7th Street. Blocks would be 206 feet deep. Payment was to be made when the work was half done. When finished, the company had the right to use the dredge boat for three years. This was accepted by the city council. (5)

A rumor against M. MOBLEY'S EXCHANGE AND BANKING HOUSE caused a heavy run there by depositors on September 11, 1857 and by the German and Irish population which held his certificates of deposit. Observing this run, a notice was promptly issued by forty of the best business concerns and wealthiest citizens of the city pledging themselves to sustain "his entire ability to redeem any promise or other pecuniary liability at call." The men thus voluntarily backing Mr. Mobley were worth nearly $4,000,000. Mobley's bank suspended operations and closed its doors early in December, 1857. He issued a card in which he stated that his assets to the amount of over $100,000 over all liabilities would be turned over to his creditors if they so desired. He would keep back nothing except enough to feed and clothe his family. He said that all creditors would be paid in full.

Mobley reopened his bank again late in May, 1858. The charge was made that the post notes of the Harbor Company caused the suspension of the Mobley bank. This was ridiculed by Mobley who said that they had aided him. He needed them, because otherwise, in order to obtain currency, he was obliged to send gold to Chicago and that course could not long continue. M. Mobley was one of the three state directors of the State Bank of Iowa in 1859.

In 1859, Mobley was appointed Receiver of Public Lands by Zachery Taylor. Mobley’s friendship with newly elected President Abraham Lincoln resulted in him obtaining work with the Bureau of Public Lands and his was appointed Dubuque's postmaster. (6) In 1866 he became a pension agent and served until 1868. He was the Chief Clerk of the Land Department from 1868 until 1878.



1. Power, John Carroll. History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois. Online: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=moa&cc=moa&view=text&rgn=main&idno=AJA3007.0001.001, p. 44

2. Oldt, Franklin T. and Patrick J. Quigley. The History of Dubuque County, Iowa, Chicago: Goodspeed Historical Association, 1890, p. 82

3. Hayes, Nathaniel S. History of the Disciples of Christ in Illinois 1819-1914. Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Company, 1915 p. 573 Online: https://books.google.com/books?id=N68weNmW8lEC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q=Mobley&f=false

4. Ibid.

5. Oldt, p. 106

5. Hayes

Preston, Howard H. History of Banking in Iowa. Iowa City, State Historical Society of Iowa, 1922, p. 24. Online: https://archive.org/stream/historyofbanking00presrich#page/24/mode/2up/search/MOBLEY